Killing Nature’s Defenders: Study Finds Global Surge in Murders of land rights activists

I’d seen news of this report yesterday at censored news.  later I peeked into DemocracyNow!, and Amy the interview: good on her.


Screenshot 2014-04-15 at 11.41.18 AM

From global witness’s press release:

Urgent action required to challenge impunity of perpetrators, protect citizens and address root causes of environmental crisis.

Killings of people protecting the environment and rights to land increased sharply between 2002 and 2013 as competition for natural resources intensifies, a new report from Global Witness reveals. In the most comprehensive global analysis of the problem on record, the campaign group has found that at least 908 people are known to have died in this time. Disputes over industrial logging, mining and land rights the key drivers, and Latin America and Asia-Pacific particularly hard hit.

Released in the year of the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Brazilian rubber tapper and environmental activist Chico Mendes, Deadly Environment highlights a severe shortage of information or monitoring of this problem. This means the total is likely to be higher than the report documents, but even the known scale of violence is on a par with the more high profile incidence of journalists killed in the same period (1). This lack of attention to crimes against environment and land defenders is feeding endemic levels of impunity, with just over one per cent of the perpetrators known to have been convicted.

“This shows it has never been more important to protect the environment, and it has never been more deadly,” said Oliver Courtney of Global Witness. “There can be few starker or more obvious symptoms of the global environmental crisis than a dramatic upturn in killings of ordinary people defending rights to their land or environment. Yet this rapidly worsening problem is going largely unnoticed, and those responsible almost always get away with it. We hope our findings will act as the wake-up call that national governments and the international community clearly need.”

The key findings in Deadly Environment are as follows:
• At least 908 people were killed in 35 countries protecting rights to land and the environment between 2002 and 2013, with the death rate rising in the last four years to an average of two activists a week.
• 2012 was the worst year so far to be an environmental defender, with 147 killings – nearly three times more than in 2002.
• Impunity for these crimes is rife: only 10 perpetrators are known to have been convicted between 2002 and 2013 – just over one per cent of the overall incidence of killings.

• The problem is particularly acute in Latin America and South East Asia. Brazil is the most dangerous place to defend rights to land and the environment, with 448 killings, followed by Honduras (109) and the Philippines (67).

The problem is exacerbated by a lack of systematic monitoring or information. Where cases are recorded, they are often seen in isolation or treated as a subset of other human rights or environmental issues. The victims themselves often do not know their rights or are unable to assert them because of lack of resources in their often remote and risky circumstances.

John Knox, UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment said, “Human rights only have meaning if people are able to exercise them. Environmental human rights defenders work to ensure that we live in an environment that enables us to enjoy our basic rights, including rights to life and health. The international community must do more to protect them from the violence and harassment they face as a result.”

Indigenous communities are particularly hard hit. In many cases, their land rights are not recognized by law or in practice, leaving them open to exploitation by powerful economic interests who brand them as ‘anti-development’. Often, the first they know of a deal that goes against their interests is when the bulldozers arrive in their farms and forests.”   more is here (pdf)


12 responses to “Killing Nature’s Defenders: Study Finds Global Surge in Murders of land rights activists

  1. Morning wendyedavis,

    Closer to (my) home, the planned eventual Penokee Range hilltop removal, taconite (iron ore) sampling is being started under the “protection,” of Walker agenda enabled by the lockstep Republican controlled legislative action of the last couple years. First environmental activists already condemned as the bad guys, trying to educate the public about the destruction of one of the last mostly pollution free watersheds feeding Lake Superior.

    Mine owners seeking to get at low-grade ore, wasting acres of asbestos laden burden that will used to fill existing wetlands will destroy the main watershed feeding tribal treaty lands for First Nation peoples, including the last significant stand of wild rice production upon which they depend.

    WI DoJ refused to prosecute Bulletproof Securities for state law violations related to their appearance. This 20-yr old is the “eco-terrorist,” is being used as an example by the authorities to exaggerate the threat to miners.

    Thanks for the post, in related news our county is finally getting a war surplus, refitted armored personnel carrier, sans 10K pounds of roadside bomb protection. I can really feel the love now, them wanting to keep me safe and all. When it is repainted, I can’t wait to see the county sheriff throwing candy from it in the July 4th parade.

  2. mornin’, nonquixote, and whoosh. i’ve spent over an hour now reading links within your malcontends link, and haven’t time to finish just now. i’ll try to in a bit, ad watch the kloth video and commentary as well. but holy crow, one judge being even more corrupt and evil than the other: lipske and madden, iirc. kochs and walker, their handmaiden. what ongoing and egregious news in your beautiful and pristine part of the world.

    and they want katie cloth to pay ten grand to pay for the hired thugs, tra la la..oh, my, the world is upside down. just think how this same story is playing over and over all over turtle island and the world. some days it does seem that ‘they’re’ winning.

    thanks for adding to the thread, amigo.

  3. Didn’t mean to diverge so much from your post focus, but pushing back against the problem from nearest to my home, sometimes seems to be the most effective action in not letting global oligarchs get any more of a foot-hold than they already have. I find people not yet aware of the local problems are then more easily educated to the wider world after realizing what’s going on their own back yard. For example, explaining what our world will be like should the TPP be enacted.

    Thanks for you dedication to the cause. Bread and laundry await.
    John Mellencamp warned Walker to quit using his song on his perpetual campaign tour, yesterday. ;^)

  4. remember the media were prohibited from getting near the BP gulf oil spill damaged areas, did not want people to see hear, smell the damage that was done.

    Amy covered the issue of infiltrating environmental activist groups, spying, harassing, and viewing them as domestic terrorists.

    we know this is part of what nsa/fbi/cia are actually for. protecting, advancing certain destructive criminal activities.

    I’ve been to countries where there is no control over the police, and observed the citizens going stiff with fear at the mere sight of them.

  5. meanwhile I tuned in rightwing radio, and heard the host defending the cattle man and his sniper friends down in Arizona.


  6. oh, please don’t apologize, nonquixote! our own local stories are the living history of these times, and must be told and spread, so thank you. it’s not your fault i’m a slow reader, either. ;) i did go looking at intercontinental cry for more recent stories… as well as a couple other spots. but one of the big dark blowbacks from cap and trade is exactly this stuff: offsetting by shipping the burden onto (especially) the indigenous areas of other nations. clear-cutting forests to plant ‘renewable greens’, which of course…cannot hold for a dozen different reasons, nor should they, imo. the global indigenous who traveled to rio for climate change talks in what, 2012?, knew this only too well, and called out ‘green capitalism’ as the scam it was.

    tpp: obomba is due to head to japan over that issue, hmmmm. love john mellencamp witless’, and good on him! i’ll add my favorite.

    oh, yes; bread day for me as well. went gluten-free for a few weeks, no great success, so now: i want my toast! :)

  7. (free for a few minutes while the sponge works…) yes, i remember amy’s coverage and the fact of it. you’ve likely read that bp is free to drill in the gulf again (with some weak oversight pap), eh? that’s the thing, isn’t it? when criminals aren’t prosecuted and jailed, what incentive do others have NOT to engage in the same behavior? i remember one of the quants at jp morgan saying that those who didn’t create crap derivatives…were mocked as idiots. that culture will have been embedded into econ students and new hires by now, i reckon.

    i’d always believed that sociopathy was a product of attachment failures during the first few years (barring neurological disorders, etc.), but it seems that either there are a lot more of those folks than we knew, or that far too many learn from those in the same bubbles (like wall street, most criminal multinational board rooms, etc. oopsie; wandering afar here…

    police out of control, frightened citizens: mind saying which countries? increasingly it may be that way here, although the comfortable classes are…sanguine about it, since they are not experiencing the same stuff. but yes, that’s a large part of what the security state is about: controlling the rabble, with the addition of spying on industries for profit…and killing socialist revolutions. :)

  8. spain during the time of Franco. “Franco’s men”

    the difference between the mafia and our governments is the mafia didn’t destroy what they were parasitizing as long as they got their vigorish.

    these people are much worse than the mafia.

  9. spain has a large history of thousands of “disappeared” people from franco’s time, and has never unearthed the story.

  10. ah. and here i’d expected you would say chile and paraguay. but i take your comparison to heart; thank you.

    i’d forgotten to respond to your ‘rightwing radio and cliven bundy’ (at least i hope that was it, even though he and his friends are in nevada?).

    i may have mentioned it earlier, but kevin gosztola seemed to be defending him as well, as did some *purported to be* occupiers on the ‘support ceclily mccmillan website. the occupy newsletter was ignorantly in favor of the ‘protesters’ mounting the coup in ukraine, as well. causing me to wonder if it’s youth or what, that causes some folks who should learn more from automatically any and all government protests.

    i will say that KG got a lot of pushback, and much later commented that he would always ballast again police over-reaction or some weirdness, but my.fdl’s jbade has penned a couple weird posts along the same line. his most recent (after ‘waco’ something, something), was this:

    ‘SPLC is to Domestic Terrorism as Fox News was to WMDs’

    i never should have gotten on the stupid thread of course, as we don’t seem to share a common language. :)

    mmmm. i wonder if you might point me to the music (indian, perhaps?) that was so beneficial to my mobility, at least at the time you brought it? i have gotten my tit in another ringer again, and while i’ve done all the home care at my disposal, sometimes music can create its own ‘tawanda!’ help. :)
    and don’t worry if you cannae remember. (siesta time for me soon)

  11. that music was by Jai Uttal.

    should help.

  12. oh, bless your heart. when my laptop’s hard disk crashed, i lost everything, including my realPlayer music. i will give it a go; there are so many things to do down in the greenhouse and garden…. thank you!

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